Directed by Brian De Palma. Starring Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams.
By: Eric J. Grimm
I expect ludicrous from Brian De Palma, especially since the 90s, though it is a feat of great wonder that he has made Passion, his bigger budget remake of Alain Corneau’s Love Crime, even more ridiculous than the original. His version is faithful to a fault: the additions and variations stick out like sore thumbs. In either an act of self-plagiarism or an homage to himself, he’s thrown in split screen, a pointless doppelgänger, and way more lesbianism. Where Corneau’s original was a slightly trashy thriller in the guise of a character drama, De Palma’s remake is all titillation. It might as well have a neon sign above it advertising “GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS!”
This isn’t always a bad thing. Perhaps one of the reasons Love Crime wasn’t an outright success is that Ludivine Sagnier and Kristin Scott-Thomas are too good for the material. Their performances are so rich, from their facial tics to their total physical awareness, that they elevate the standard catty plot points. You’ll find no such performances in Passion. Rachel McAdams plays the Scott-Thomas role which is something like ordering a bottle of wine and getting a glass bottle of orange soda. You wonder if you can’t keep your eyes off of her because she’s so beautiful or because she’s such a terrifically awful actress. No matter, because she’s clearly having fun as an all grown up version of her Mean Girls character.
Noomi Rapace gives a performance so confounding that I can’t stop thinking about it. She speaks English like she’s spitting the words through mouthfuls of bread, but she cries and laughs like an animal being wounded over and over. Her insanity is breathtaking. Too bad De Palma has made the character less nuts than in the original. Between show stopping freak outs, she mostly just goes through the motions.
Credit goes to De Palma for making a much more stylish world in which these characters can toy with each other. Corneau’s vision of France was far too sterile. Passion is ridiculous and doesn’t come remotely close to De Palma’s greatest work (including my favorite, ‘Blow Out’), but I’m impressed at how it managed to make me equally giddy and infuriated. At the very least, I wasn’t bored.